The beginning of the year is the perfect time for publishers to introduce new faces, and two February debuts are already building up some buzz.
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Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown (Feb. 17, 2011; Amy Einhorn Books): Three sisters named for Shakespeare's heroines have one summer to pull their disorganized lives together—is there really no problem a library card can't solve?
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (Feb. 2011; Viking Books): A novel about an ages-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious alchemical manuscript that draws them together—this book provides a dose of the paranormal for the adult crowd and was one of the hottest titles on offer at the 2009 Frankfurt Book Fair.
What debuts are you looking forward to?
This February, T.C. Boyle returns with "a socially conscious, richly humane tale regarding the dominion we attempt to exert, for better or worse, over the natural world." When the Killing's Done (Viking) is set off the coast of Santa Barbara, and follows a National Park Service biologist who is trying to keep invasive, non-native species from killing off the island's endangered native creatures. Her task is complicated by a local businessman and his folksinger girlfriend, who don't think that the non-native species should be eliminated.
This isn't Boyle's first foray into environmental fiction: his 2000 novel, A Friend of the Earth [read our review] is set in the future (2025, to be exact) in the wake of a massive species extinction.
Boyle fans should check out our coverage of his backlist on BookPage.com.
Some of you were pretty psyched when we posted about Jan Karon's In the Company of Others back in April. So when the galley came in today's mailbag, I felt like I had to share the opening lines with you:
Sheets of rain lashed the windshield; the high beams of their hired car barely penetrated a summer twilight grown black as pitch. It was a classic Irish downpour.
The road had narrowed to a single lane scarcely wider than a sheep track and was bordered by dense hedges. He took Cynthia's hand; his wife's fear of being hemmed in was only slightly greater than his. Crammed into the rain-hammered Volvo with a carton of books and a testy driver and pressed on either side by the sullen hedges, he counted this very moment as the reason he was no traveler.
The flight from Atlanta to Dublin had lived up to his worst expectations. Following a delay of seven hours due to storms in the Atlanta area, the trip across the Pond had been an unnerving piece of business which shortened his temper and swelled his feet to ridiculous proportions. Then, onto a commuter flight to Sligo airport at Strandhill, where—and this was the final straw, or so he hoped—they met the antiquated vehicle that would take them to the lodge on Lough Arrow. When he located an online Sligo car service a month back and figured out how to dial the country code, hadn't he plainly said the trip would celebrate his wife's birthday as well as her first time in Ireland? Hadn't he specified a nice car?
Excerpt from In the Company of Others by Jan Karon, published October 19, 2010 by Viking Books.
If you've spent the past 18 years wondering what Terry McMillan's memorable heroines from the 1992 hit Waiting to Exhale are up to now that they've hit middle age, the answers are coming in September, when Viking will publish Getting to Happy.
We have to admit to some surprise over this announcement, since in our 2005 interview with McMillan about her last novel, The Interruption of Everything, she didn't seem too crazy about Exhale's characters.
"[T]hose women make me sick! They seem like such whiners, except for one," she says. "But the thing was, at that time, there were so many women that I knew, myself included, who looked up and realized, gee whiz, what happened to those husbands we were supposed to be getting? Not only husbands, we didn't even have dates! Back then, it was kind of important because we were in it, but then it kind of came and went. But they don't let you forget!"
There's no reason why . . . publishers can't be planning for the holiday season. Any best-selling author worth her salt seems to have a holiday-themed book headed to shelves before the Thanksgiving turkey is carved. Many of the usual suspects are appearing—Anne Perry, Donna VanLiere, Debbie Macomber, Richard Paul Evans, Melody Carlson—but this season also brings notable new members of the holiday fiction club:
Kate Jacobs had a smash hit with her debut, The Friday Night Knitting Club -- and its sequel proved equally popular. Now she brings back some of the same characters in Knit the Season (Putnam). We predict: More than a few craft-lovers will find this yarn under their tree.
Gregory Maguire is the modern king of fractured fairy tales, which makes him a natural fit for the Christmas novel. With Matchless (Morrow), he reinvents Andersen's "The Little Match Girl" for the holidays. We predict: This classic story will now inspire more laughter than tears.
In novels like P.S. I Love You, Cecelia Ahern has managed to give a twee-sounding concepts emotional depth without veering into sentimentality. Her holiday novel, The Gift (Hyperion), was published last year in the UK and promises more of the same entertainment with an emotional pull. Plus, it's beautifully packaged. We predict: This won't be her last holiday-themed work.
Garrison Keillor's folksy voice takes on the holiday in A Christmas Blizzard (Viking). When a weathly art collector is stranded in North Dakota for Christmas instead of lounging on a Hawaiian beach as he'd planned, he's changed forever. We predict: An upswing in North Dakota holiday tourism.